Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in Canada

Click here to view these pictures larger

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

At home with the flu and dreaming of NYC

I have the flu.

It's not fun.

I was so miserable last night that I didn't sleep. At all. Not one little wink! I'm toasted today and still tried to go in to work mostly because I was feeling guilty that the office was running low on staff today. I lasted one whole hour ... my head was swooning, I felt like everyone was talking to me through a fog not to mention my every muscle and joint was hurting like mad. I had a 101 temp when I left the house for work this morning, by the time I got home it was at 103! EEk! I called the doc and was told I most likely have the flu...to keep an eye on my temperature and if it keeps going up to come see them.

Hmmm... doctors sure are different today than they use to be! I remember that any phone call to the doc (stubbed your toe, scraped your knee, have a headache...) required an office visit and lab work. A L W A Y S... these days they don't want to see you. It is important to note that I opted for a phone consultation since I didn't feel like going in - i still get charged a fee. so, no prescriptions or anything...just advice to sweat it out, drink lots of fluids and be cognizant of my condition. Yeah, thanks nurse-practitioner-lady...Doctor Google told me that much!

So part of this whole achy body and miserableness is that I simply can't sleep - no clue why. I passed out from sheer exhaustion for roughly 30 minutes when I got home from work, but that's all the sleeping I've done since Monday night! Anyway, I'm feeling like poop, stuck at home and can't sleep...so you get to read my ramblings on the blog...

Next thing on my mind is my trip to NYC with my mom. it's set for this Friday. I've already bought my train ticket and the ticket to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular (which, by the way, is coming to DC too) ... so come hell or high water, flu or no, I'm heading to NYC on Friday. If you hear news reports of a DC woman passing out on the ACELA on the way to NYC, you can be assured it was me! :)

I guess I'll spend my time researching where to go for dinner after the show Friday night until I pass out. I currently have reservations at the oh-so-touristy Russian Tea Room, that I hear is highly overrated...so if I don't get reservations anywhere else we can at the very least go there. Any advice?

And, since all blog posts simply must have a photo...i leave you with this year's Santa photo, that's Paul in the photo...he is always smiling and why he wouldn't for this photo I'll never know! Peter, of course, decided Santa was too scary and watched while Paul got his photo taken.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

All call to arms from a fellow mom - "WHAT AM I DOING WRONG HERE?"

My cousin has a very, very cute little girl with fantastic little dimples and curly hair I would kill for that I'm sure she'll just hate when she gets older...but I'd still kill for them... anyway, this beautiful daughter is giving her mommy, my cousin, a hard time at bath time. Here's a link to her most recent post on the topic: The Moores: What Am I Doing Wrong Here? If any of you have some advice for her, please offer it up! I'll be reading her comments since I'm going through almost the same thing with my son!

thanks!


Friday, November 27, 2009

"Mommy, I've Got Worms!"

First, Happy Holidays Everyone! I hope you all have had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday so far! This is just my absolute favorite time of year! It starts with Halloween and doesn't end until the new year! I love the holidays, the weather (yes, this Southern gal likes the cold), and I love that everyone is generally in a good mood.

Our Thanksgiving was simple and nice. The dinner was Turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, sweet potato pie, and dutch apple pie. I make the best apple pie if I do say so myself...secret ingredient (Garam Masala!). We put up our tree as we always do on Thanksgiving day with the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade playing in the background. This year's Thanksgiving was just an immense joy with our almost 3 year old being old enough to grasp the event of it all. It is such a joy watching him build wonderful childhood memories, memories not unlike the ones I already have of putting up the Christmas tree and placing the ornaments and staring at the lights on the tree each night. He loves to run downstairs in the morning and turn on the lights to the tree.

Today I worked a half day at work; my husband and along with our two boys met up with me to have lunch together and head home. While waiting for our pizza to be brought out to us my husband started wiping off my three year old's hands; at which point the three year old says "I have worms!". We both burst out laughing. Germs! My husband said still laughing, you have germs on your hands! :)

We're having a nice T-giving weekend, with fun and laughter. I hope yours is just as nice if not better!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

I leave you with a photo of Peter unpacking our Christmas stuff:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paul Starts Eating Solids with Gusto!

This kid LOVES food!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wear This to Work?

In continuing my search for a suit I was shopping Lord & Taylor's One Day Only, On-line Only 40% off sale on their suits and wandered off course to their dresses section. I click the sub-category under dresses for "wear to work" among the results was this:

Really? This is Lord & Taylor's advice of what to wear to work?

I know there are people out there who have jobs in creative fields where you could get away with this; but typically when you see "wear to work" it means more traditional business attire. I think the accessories on this outfit (particularly the headscarf and shoes, I could probably be OK with the chunky bracelets at work) really set it apart from the rest of the business attire clothes listed...definitely the embellishments on this outfit remove it from what I would think of as typical business attire.

Back when I was still showing my art work in galleries I could see myself wearing something like this; but certainly not now that I'm in a suit-wearing environment.

Can you wear something like this to your office? Yes? Where do you work - would love to know where this would fit in...


Friday, November 13, 2009

Nepali by TDM Scarf Giveaway


Click your way on over to Savvy Mode to where she's giving away this scarf valued at $145...not only is it a fabulous giveaway, it benefits a cause:
NEPALI by TDM Design provides sustainable income to Nepalese women and helps weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them above market compensation and access to education and health care. NEPALI by TDM Design assists in empowering Nepalese women, their families and their communities. Michelle and Michelle believe that income generation opportunities and support for social values enhance and reinforce each other. TDM strives to strengthen the role of women in today’s Nepal and educate their children as the country moves forward. (info via TDM Design)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nothing Like Shoes to Make a Woman Smile!

Had a GREAT day shopping! I bought two pair of shoes. These incredibly comfortable pumps by Via Spiga (I got them in black):


And these FRIGGIN FANTASTIC shoes? boots? I think they're officially called booties by Pour La Victoire :


I was all set to buy these Stuart Wietzman pumps as well when my mom convinced me they looked awful on me. the cut of the shoe hit really funny around the ball of my feet - but I'm looking hard to find something similar:



Still no new suit, but I was inspired today with what I saw...I just have to suck it up and pay the $$$$ for the ones I like. Interpretation: convince my husband it's OK to spend so much on a single outfit!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Suits suits...blah blah blah

So...I don't blog so much anymore...got that whole new job thing taking up my time and I like spending the spare time with my boys and not blogging. Can you blame me when you see sweet faces like this?


However, the cuteness of my boys is not the point of my post...this time.

My new job is in the government, one of the last few places in the United States where people still wear suits to work. I kind of liked the idea of it; of wearing suits again. At least I did until I went shopping for one.

B O R I N G ! ! ! !

What the hell is wrong with the clothing industry? I can't really LOOK at yet another boring black pencil skirt suit. YUK. some examples:



http://www.brooksbrothers.com/IWCatSectionView.process?IWAction=Load&Merchant_Id=1&Section_Id=374

Somebody, please, point me towards some creativity in the suit area!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

11-4-09 Joe & Peter


11-4-09 Joe & Peter
Originally uploaded by Rachel.Perrone

So Peter got to ditch school today and hang out with his bud, Joe. Joe's mom, Rachel, will forever be super-mom to me since she took on these two 2-year old boys with her infant in tow today AND managed to get them all down for a nap too...she's just awesome!

Here's wishing she'd change careers from new media guru to nanny!!!!

This is a clip of Peter and Joe having a blast!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

More from Halloween Night 2009

Some more of our evening:

Getting ready to go trick or treating Daddy had some music playing in the kitchen, Peter decided to break dance:




Here's Peter eating his candy (the hat from him pumpkin costume still on)...forward to 2:51 for some really funny reactions to a super sour candy:



More post trick-or-treating craziness:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Happy Halloween!!!!

Our Halloween...


Videos of the boys

I'm sure there will be more updates with substance in the future given tonight is Halloween and a supreme photo taking opportunity. Meanwhile, and this is mostly for my family since few others I would think would be interested in sitting through long clips of babies and toddlers, here are a few clips of the boys:

This first one is a video we made to send to Daddy while he was traveling for work:

This clip is 1:22 long.


These next three are all of Paul. They are all first thing this morning when Paul woke up. He opens his eyes for the day and just starting go-go-going!


This one is 1:46 long.



This one is 2:42 long.



This one is 1:37 long

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Christmas, Halloween and dancing in between

My two year old son has pneumonia - or so says the lab at the doc's office. But, you look at this video and tell me if this looks like a sick kid!

In this rather long video my son discusses what he wants for Christmas, Dances a ton, discusses Halloween a bit and entertains his 7 month old brother. Besides a phlegm-y cough you can't tell he's sick!



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Angry? Scared? Frustrated? Just sing your ABC's

The boys have been in daycare for about 3 weeks now and each morning Peter still cries. I hate that for him. He's inherited my deep sensitivity towards life. He's very attached to mommy and daddy and he starts dreading going to school as soon as he gets up in the morning. I have distinct memories of that level of dread and fear from my childhood. He's fine once he gets to school and has fun all day, but the instant one of us shows up to get him his eyes fill with tears and he comes running for a big hug. So sweet for us, but I hate that he's so emotionally torn up so young.

One morning on our way to school he just couldn't bear it anymore and broke down crying on the bus and started screaming "No School Mama!" over and over again. I tried to stay calm and not cry myself. As calmly as possible I asked him if he was scared to go to school; answer: yes. Are your teachers mean? answer: no Do they hit you? NO!!!, he says loudly. Do they play with you? YES! he says all happy (with tears still streaming down his face). Then you have fun at school! YES!!! he says, still crying. So why are you scared to go to school? "Miss mama! Miss Dada, Miss Tiggs (that's our cat)". We had gone through this routine everyday since he started school, so this time I was prepared with a photo album of the family he could take with him. He was happy, and we made it to school. That tactic only worked once, however. The very next day we were on the city bus again with him in tears. This time, for an added little twist, he sat down on the bus floor and refused to get up. Here I am with a stroller, backpack and the baby strapped to me trying to maneuver my two year old off the bus in a way that didn't make me look like a horrible abusive parent. What I wanted to do was just grab his arm and drag him off. He finally relented and got off sobbing. I told him anytime he's angry he can sing to feel better.

So... now what happens every morning when he starts getting anxious about our impending arrival to school he starts singing the ABC's at the top of his lungs and really fast. Kind of like an adult might count to ten to regain composure (only my little man is yelling).

The people on the bus find this cute (or at least pretend to) and I'm not the horrible mother dragging her kid off the bus by the arm. I hope this approach to the school day melt down sticks because I'm all out of tricks and ideas.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paul can Crawl - for real this time!!!!

This kid is on the move... and I wasn't there to see the first crawl :( It's hard being back at work! Here's the cute boy on the move:


Monday, October 12, 2009

Things I learned while in NYC

Christy (of A 'Lil Welsh Rarebit) and I went to NYC this past weekend and we really had a great time. We had planned to go up Friday night and come home Sunday morning...and so begins the list of what I learned while in NYC:
  1. you don't have to rush to the train station to catch your train on a long weekend; the line will be so insanely long that there is no way you'll miss your train.

  2. meeting up with old friends you haven't seen in ages can be fun and exciting; there's tons to catch up on and talk about because you so rarely see each other.

  3. when booking hotel rooms through Priceline.com be sure to confirm that they have reserved a room with TWO beds for you and your friend. Thank God Christy is a tough negotiator! She got a us room with two beds for the first night and free upgrade to a king suite for the second night!

  4. If you're heading to NYC and want a super-cool and hip (do people still say hip?) hotel room, book at Dream Hotel. It's walking distance to Central Park, Time Square, and FAO Schwarz. I got the impression that the locals came to this hotel for the extremely cool bar/nightclub in the hotel. The two moms (that would be Christy & I) did NOT go to the club.

  5. Shopping in NYC can be overwhelming

  6. Food is good everywhere in NYC

  7. Don't buy your theater tickets ahead of time if you think you might miss your children and spouse so much that you decide to cut your trip short and head home a day early! **big grin** Yes, we actually did this. I know for my part, I was having a great time with Christy but everytime I saw a dad with his kid I got a little choked up. It didn't help that Christy was doing the same so we were feeding off of one another's emotions. Some lucky soul at the hotel got free tickets to see "Next to Normal". My husband was not in the least bit happy with me paying for two nights at a hotel that I only used one night, a ticket to a Broadway show that I dind't see, and extra money to get an earlier train home. Women...aren't we great! We really do excercise our right to change our minds!

  8. John Fluevog makes the best damn shoes on Earth. Bought two pair and left them on the train. :(

  9. Never take a room next to the elevator where the BING of the elevator is audible in the furthest reaches of your room and where you can hear every syllable of the people getting off the elevator. Actually, just bring earplugs.

  10. Embrace your touristy-ness and do not be ashamed to flaunt your camera, pose stupidly in front of things, and take cheesy bus tours and bicycle taxi rides when you travel!

  11. Do NOT try to do everything when visiting a large city and be willing to change your plans while traveling. I think Christy and I both did really well with this.

  12. Never travel on just two hours of sleep, lest you leave your prized and expensive purchases on the train for someone else to enjoy.

  13. Keep your purchased items close to you when traveling.

  14. Once you make the decision to cut your travel short (as if everyone does this) do not look back with regret that you did not: make it to the street fairs, eat at that famed restaurant, purchase clothes for the new job, go to Central Park, or go to that huge store you had planned to go to...because you can always go back!!!

  15. Remember to enjoy the quirkiness that allowed you and your friend to look at each other and say "You're fun, but I want to go home" and neither of you get offended!

  16. If you're "normal" by the rest of the U.S. standards then you will always standout in NYC.

  17. If you're still nursing your baby and try to take a vacation - just remember that you're going to have to interrupt your sight seeing about 800 million times to go pump or else you will suffer horrible engorgement! Oh and be sure you travel with someone who understands this and is not the least bit bothered by this interruption (thank you Christy!).
All photos are here.

                              Sunday, October 11, 2009

                              NYC in photos

                              Well, we're back from NYC a day early but it's all good. Photos from our trip (by the end of it I was more focused on shopping than clicking the camera so not really photos of everything we did)...


                              Thursday, October 8, 2009

                              Victim of Technology!

                              Have you heard this phrase? Do you have an intimate understanding of it? I didn't think I did until recently. It dawned on me last night while trying to go sleep. You know
                              that moment (or in my case roughly 2 hours) just before falling asleep when your mind wanders down different thought-paths working out the day's events, the plans for tomorrow & beyond, and reasoning out ludicrous what-ifs? Yeah, during that mind-wandering pre-sleep moment it dawned me that I am the epitome of a technology victim!

                              How? You may have read over at A Lil' Welsh Rarebit that Christy and I are planning a trip to NYC. Well, actually, Christy is planning our trip for us. I have to be honest I've been so distracted with the kids starting daycare for the first time ever, my Dad having heart surgery and me starting a new job that Christy has been planning our trip to NYC with a bit of opinion injected from me from time to time (now that is a good friend, right?! I mean Christy, not me!)

                              Here we are planning this huge trip to NYC and haven't spoken on the phone for over a year! Even now in the midst of our planning we haven't spoken on the phone! Yeah...email exchanges have happened and comments on one another's blogs too...but isn't that more to the point?

                              Technology victim!

                              Actually, we have NEVER spoken on the phone! Seriously. Christy and I have known each other since we worked together I think over five years ago. We use to have a small-ish girl group that got together every now and then for drinks or dinner until the group slowly disbanded. I went to a party here and there hosted by Christy and I went to her baby shower while she was pregnant with Ms. Foo. Christy came to a couple of my art shows. These few events have happened over the past five-some-odd years and always with an emailed or post-mailed invitation. In all this time, over all these events not once have we spoken on the phone. The last time I saw Christy or spoke to her was at her baby shower! That was Ms. Foo's baby shower and now Ms. Foo is a little over a year old!

                              Technology victims, we commune on Facebook and email, but rarely in person or on the phone. But maybe the word victim is not accurate here; because it's thanks to blogging, Facebook and email that I've been able to keep in touch with friends like Christy who have moved away or that I no longer work with and see on a daily basis. I've managed to keep a casual at-arms-length contact with my ex-bosses and coworkers thanks to these social networking tools. It's kind of cool to hop over to my ex-coworkers blog and see what she's been up to. I think you have to have had some fondness for the person in the first place to have any curiosity about their lives. My husband can't quite understand blogging about our lives and he really gets rolling with comments about Facebook statuses. I think they're perfect "just keeping in touch" type tools. I mean could you seriously see yourself calling up an ex-coworker from a year ago that you use to have lunch with on every Wednesday and Friday and saying in Facebook status lingo: "Jennifer is sitting outside watching the blue sky and sipping mojitos." saying nothing else and then hanging up? Or how about just randomly snail-mailing photos from your recent awesome vacation to Paris?! I choose Paris for my example because I've never been and would love to go. Can you imagine opening that envelope of photos from someone you haven't seen in a year and barely had a close relationship with in first place? These old forms of communication don't seem to offer the same opportunities the social networking tools offer. These tools have a very odd dynamic but they're definitely a dynamic that works.

                              So, if we're not technology victims then I guess we're ... what? ... technologically enhanced? That sounds like a robot...but you know what I mean!


                              *The image in this post was taken from Media Bistro.

                              Tuesday, October 6, 2009

                              Some Cuteness and Some Clothes

                              Sheesh...that's a big post... hope you don't get bored with all I had to say but there's something cathartic about blogging/posting...guess it's like a journal entry.

                              Let's start with the cuteness; I am talking about my two boys of course. I start back to work full time next week after being off and at home with my boys for almost three years. Yeah...I'm pretty much an emotional wreck! But it's all good, it has to be done. I lucked out and was able to get the kids into their daycare a week before I'm due to start work. So we took advantage of that and let them start with a half day yesterday and today and they will go all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

                              We have a busy week to be sure. Along with me learning the ropes of what's needed to get the kids packed for school and out the door I've had to go up to my new office for meet & greets and tomorrow to get my ID badge. Sounds mundane, but nothing with the Government or The State Department is mundane. It's all been so exciting! Yesterday I walked the boys to school, dropped them off and walked up to wait for the bus down to The State Department - the bus never came. Geez. Had to flag down a taxi and book it downtown for my meeting. When I finally had a moment to think (while riding the taxi) I got all choked up and started crying. The man driving the taxi was really sweet, he had a very thick Ethiopian accent and was explaining to me that God never gives us something we can't handle. I'm not religious (not in the least) but it was a nice sentiment and made me feel good that this stranger was trying to cheer me up. I finally got my act together and started focusing on the fact that I probably was going to look all red-faced and splotchy from crying. Thank GOD I opted for a make-up free day.
                              I finished my meetings and jumped in another taxi back to the daycare to pick up the kids. Day one of daycare down. I had forgotten to send Paul's lovey to school with him and as a result of being in a strange place and no familiar things they had a tough time getting him to sleep. He also seemed to need/want more food than I sent. :| I can only pump so much! I also learned that I OVER-packed the bag the night before. Lessons learned: solid foods, extra milk, and the lovey for Paul packed for today's daycare.

                              Today Peter cried and cried when I dropped him at daycare. I told a friend I didn't know if I was more upset over Peter crying or the fact that my youngest, Paul, didn't care I was going. I'm sure I'll get use to this at some point, but it sure tugs hard at my heart! So...to lift the spirits...take a look at these photos.

                              Here's Paul having a grand ol' time with a mix of blueberries and applesauce. By the way, I don't do bibs. I learned with Peter they are useless and the kids just yank them off. I strip them down to their diapers and go. I also have this fab and expensive Peg Perego high chair that's all padded and cushy ...yeah nice purchase (read with sarcasm). My off-the-charts tall boys never sat tall enough to eat in the stupid high chair and by the time Peter was tall enough for it he refused to sit in it. So Paul is getting fed in his Bumbo. :)




                              Here are a few of Peter as we were heading off to school this morning. Peter picked that backpack out himself, he loves Spiderman!:




                              OK...now on with the shopping. I mentioned before that I've been shopping with Kaboodle. Well, this weekend I went out with my Mom (so fun shopping with her!) and bought a few things for the new job. The wardrobe is nowhere near complete as I now only have three outfits, I figure if I have nine outfits total to get me started I'll be good. That's where my girls' trip to NYC this weekend comes in! I'm soo friggin' excited. Christy (from A Lil' Welsh Rarebit fame) and I are heading up on the train with no kids and no husbands...look out NYC here we come!

                              So, what did I buy this weekend? Here are some photos, I tried to find some on-line photos but I can't seem to find them...I have fallen in love with the Lauren by Ralph Lauren collection for this season. The belted grey sweater below and the suit are all Ralph Lauren, the argyle sweater is just some no-name but oh so yummy cashmere. :) Finally, the boots are Cole Haan. I discovered during this shopping trip that my anticipated issues with clothes not fitting was a non-issue and surprisingly the issue was SHOES! Nothing fit! I'm still a size 7 in length but some how my feet are now wider! Thank boys, I'm sure this is due to my two pregnancies.. boohoo. I couldn't get the all black suite to photograph very well....so just picture a slightly ruffly collared jacket and a knee-length skirt with the same slight ruffle in the bottom of the skirt. So, yeah, I spent some money and the hubby has NO CLUE the amount I've spent...I keep hoping it will fly under the radar and just blend in with the expense of my trip to NYC this weekend. **GRIN**


                              Saturday, October 3, 2009

                              Another Giveaway

                              Over at The Life of a Suburban Princess she's giving away some body lotion and fall-themed soaps. Go here to learn how to enter to win and for once you don't have to have a blog to enter.

                              Here's what she's giving away:

                              These soaps...


                              And this body lotion:

                              Friday, October 2, 2009

                              Some floor swimming, a rockin' baby & a plug for Sweden

                              Here's a short clip of my 6 month old floor swimming, and yes, it's laundry day and that's my pile of clothes on the floor in the background! :)

                              Short clip:


                              Here's a longer clip of the floor swimming and of course the tell-tale signs of a beginning crawler - THE ROCK!

                              Longer clip:


                              Uploading several more (longer) clips of Paul crawling on my YouTube account.

                              Tuesday, September 29, 2009

                              Best (small) Family Vehicle with Most Cargo Space

                              More shopping...I told you I've been shopping! Only this time it's not for clothes, it's for cars. Our ten year old (yes, that's right ten years old) Camry is just now starting to show signs of aging...big-dollar aging. We drag our feet to buy a new one because we live in the city with no off-street parking. Which means we suffer all the blows parking on the street offers. We just let the sideswiping of our old car roll off our backs. We also don't want to have to worry about our new car being dinged, stolen, broken into, etc. Our old Camry doesn't really invite thieves. It doesn't hurt that the car is totally paid for either. We have no intention of taking on a car note either, so whatever we buy...we plan to buy outright...so we aren't looking at cars in the $50k and up price range. However, the next big-ticket repair that pops up for this old car we want to be ready and have researched out what car we want to buy because at that point, we'll be buying a new car. I don't think it will be very long before we have to buy a new car either. Too bad this old Camry can't go another five years for us!

                              In addition to not wanting to worry about a new car getting damaged, etc...we really do think that at some point in the next five years we'll be moving to the 'burbs (insert crying here) so the kids can go to a decent school without breaking our bank. We're still in debates over private vs. public and all that nonsense. But in all reality, raising kids in the city is tough. So, we would have liked to wait until we moved to buy a new car since, parking on the street requires a smaller vehicle. At least we see it that way.

                              What are we looking for? We are looking for the best family vehicle with the most cargo space with a small footprint. So, being the list-maker that I am...I compiled a list of cars and I'm not excited by ANY of them! Not one. Boy this parenting thing is far-reaching! I would so love, for example, to buy a Smart car or a Minicooper or a nice compact hybrid. However, since we travel at least twice a year to Montreal to see Mark's family and since flying with two kids gets pretty expensive we need a car with some cargo space for traveling. OK, we always did like to drive up but now we need a car that can accommodate all our ssshi... um I mean stuff.

                              Here is our shopping criteria: Number one on the list is reliability & safety (enter Edmunds.com for all that info), Number two is cargo space, third - gas mileage and maintenance cost...

                              I ended up with a comparison list of eight cars. Surprisingly one of the most expensive cars (the BMW 328i xdrive) is the worst for safety (according to stats from Edmunds.com) and the only car in the whole list that had 100% reliability across all categories was the least expensive (the Kia Rondo Lx), again according to Edmunds.com.

                              After compiling this list (below) I think I'm leaning towards the Toyota RAV 4; it gives us our storage, great gas mileage, great price and very good reliability and safety. We'll see how it drives and how comfortable it is...15 hour drives kind-of requires a bit of comfort!

                              THE LIST:
                              ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                              Cargo: 35 cu ft max or 31.7 cu ft luggage only
                              Gas Mileage: 18 mpg / 26 mpg / 21 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
                              Cost: $19,495
                              Edmunds reliability: 100% Green/Good all the way http://www.edmunds.com/new/2009/kia/rondo/101129996/reliability.html
                              Maintenance: $3421 (estimated total cost for five years)
                              Safety: Passenger: 5 stars | Driver: 5 stars | Side Impact Front: 5 stars | Side Impact Rear: 4 stars | Rollover Rating: 4 stars

                              Cargo: 59 cu ft max storage or 29 cu ft luggage only
                              Gas Mileage: 17 mpg / 23 mpg / 20 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
                              Cost: $21,245
                              Maintenance: $2721 (estimated total cost for five years)
                              Safety: Passenger: 5 stars | Driver: 5 stars | Side Impact Front: 5 stars | Side Impact Rear: 5 stars | Rollover Rating: 4 stars


                              Cargo: 61 cu ft Max or 27.8 cu ft luggage only
                              Gas Mileage: 17 mpg / 22 mpg / 19 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
                              Cost: $37,620
                              Maintenance: $3,637
                              Safety: Passentger: 5 stars | Driver: 5 stars | Side Impact Front: 5 stars | Side Impact Rear: 5 stars | Rollover Rating: 4 stars

                              Cargo: 70 cu ft Max or 30.7 cu ft luggage only
                              Gas Mileage: 18 mpg / 25 mpg / 21 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
                              Cost: $29,250
                              Maintenance: $4,006
                              Safety: Passenger: 5 stars | Driver: 5 stars | Side Impact Front: 5 stars | Side Impact Rear: 5 stars | Rollover Rating: 4 stars

                              Cargo: 73 cu ft Max or 36.4 cu ft luggage only
                              Gas Mileage: 22 mpg / 28 mpg / 24 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
                              Cost: $21,500
                              Maintenance: $3,880
                              Safety: Passenger: 4 stars | Driver: 5 stars | Side Impact Front: 5 stars | Side Impact Rear: 5 stars | Rollover Rating: 4 stars


                              Cargo: 59 cu ft max storage or 29 cu ft luggage only
                              Gas Mileage: 17 mpg / 23 mpg / 19 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
                              Cost: $32,885
                              Maintenance: Not yet available
                              Safety: Passenger: 5 stars | Driver: 5 stars | Side Impact Front: 5 stars | Side Impact Rear: 5 stars | Rollover Rating: 4 stars

                              Cargo: 71 cu ft Max or 31 Cu ft luggage only
                              Gas Mileage: 14 mpg / 20 mpg / 16 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
                              Cost: $39,300
                              Maintenance: $3,594
                              Safety: Passenger: 5 stars | Driver: 5 stars | Side Impact Front: 5 stars | Side Impact Rear: 5 stars | Rollover Rating: 4 stars


                              Cargo: 61 cu ft max or luggage only not provided
                              Gas Mileage: 17 mpg / 25 mpg / 20 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
                              Cost: $37,400
                              Maintenance: too new for estimate
                              Safety: Passenger: 4 stars | Driver: 4 stars | Side Impact Front: 5 stars | Side Impact Rear: 5 stars | Rollover Rating: 4 stars

                              Saturday, September 26, 2009

                              I've Been Shopping!

                              I've been shopping. I've been shopping a lot! But I haven't bought anything yet. I've been getting my "fix" by clicking "Add to Kaboodle". Kaboodle is an on-line wish list that gathers things you like, want and or intend to buy from any website. So you have a handy list of items from all types of shops. My family and I have been using it for several years now for our Christmas gift wish lists; my list last year included a tricked-out Mini Cooper - nobody got it for me. But they did get me the food processor I wanted and the electric tea kettle!
                              So, the latest list I've been compiling is for my return to work. I have no work clothes. None. I'm not exaggerating. I've spent three years as a stay at home mom and I wore jogging pants and shorts every day of it! LOVED IT! Just last month I bought a pair of khaki pants (hadn't owned a pair in three years). So...going back to work in the government I'm assuming I need some suits. Something I haven't had to wear in previous jobs for over 10 years. I've been working in start up companies or in companies with a laid back atmosphere.

                              I'm using Kaboodle to compile things I like, to gauge my own tastes. From there I'll weed it down to things I think would be appropriate in the work place. Boy am I having fun! Check out some of my selections:






                              Want to see more of what I'm "shopping" for? Look here. Please, feel free to get me anything on my list! ;)

                              Friday, September 25, 2009

                              Does Education Matter at Age Four?


                              There is an enormous debate going on between my husband and I right now. That debate revolves around our decisions on where to enroll our toddler next year when he becomes eligible for some of the free public preschools in the area. The question, the debate: Does education matter at age four? Does the school you choose for preschool up to Kindergarten age have an impact on future learning and education?

                              I say yes.

                              I've been surprised to learn I'm an education snob! When I started considering where to send our son and viewing not only test scores but the over-all feel of the school I found the more affluent schools to be more attractive to me. What was it that drew me to these schools? Was it because, at best, I went to a mediocre Catholic School and felt a more expensive private school would be better? Was it because I felt the more expensive schools would be more challenging to my (clearly genius) children? The answer is probably a little of all of that. Good teachers are important but if the other children in a school have an attitude that you're a dork if you don't get good grades - then that's even better! Peer pressure for good grades is so valuable. I can't gaurantee that these expensive schools' kids will have this attitude any more than I can guarantee the public schools' kids don't but I can almost positively guarantee the parents will be more involved and have an affect more than in the public schools.

                              So, for the question of whether we go public or private in the long run is settled. It's the younger years that we're having the debate over. Does it matter at this age? What's your take?

                              Wednesday, September 23, 2009

                              I'm a writer!

                              I'm officially a writer! OK, maybe not... but I was flattered that A Lil' Welsh Rarebit asked that I guest blog for her today. Go check it out here!

                              Back to work!

                              No more luxurious life of a stay at home mom for me! Those words use to be an oxymoron to me: luxurious & stay-at-home-mom...but now that I'm heading back to work mid-October I'm starting to savor my little moments with my boys more and more.

                              I'm feeling that deep twinge of guilt for putting my 6 month old (well, he'll be 7 months old when he starts) in the care of a stranger. My 2 1/2 year old is more than ready for daycare. Still, I wish there was some way for me to get that forever sought after balance of of staying at home with the kids and oh so fulfilling experience of working.

                              I won't lie, I miss work, I never stopped missing work. I miss having a conversation that doesn't revolve around kids, I miss wearing clothes; real clothes not jogging pants and shorts covered in spit up and food. Although I'm sure I'll occasionally be heading to work with food and spit up on my suits. I hope not.

                              Where, you ask, might I be going to work? Well, I took this really boring job that is sure to be easy on me and not demanding at all. That last sentence was drenched in sarcasm. I took a position at the State Department supporting the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. It promises to be exciting, no doubt about it. I was relieved to see there would be no travel required of me and at the same time I was a little disappointed. I'm nothing but a ball of conflicting emotions and thoughts that I'm sure will work themselves out as our family settles in to the new routine of mommy working.

                              The hugest impact will fall on my husband. Not because he's lazy. He always takes the kids off my hands the instant he comes home from work, he always does the daily grocery store run, he almost always cooks the dinner, and every single night he gives our two year old his bath and puts him to bed. But, since I wasn't working I saw the kids as my job. So I saw to it that all things kids related I took care of. I didn't work the next day so never did my husband have to deal with a night feeding or a nightmare. That is, until the second baby came along, then he kind of took over the two year old who would occasionally wake up and need some soothing. I always did the doc visits and shopping and of course I was with them all day.

                              Now that I'm going back to work and since my work day starts at 7:30 am, my husband gets the joy of wrestling BOTH kids out of bed, getting them dressed, fed and delivered to the daycare with their bags of necessities for the day. Luckily, the daycare cooks hot meals for breakfast, snacks and lunch so my husband doesn't have to worry about packed lunches. I figure if I prepare all the baby's bottles, pack the bag and lay out all the clothes the night before the morning should go more or less smoothly. It's also lucky that if he has trouble feeding the boys breakfast the day care serves a breakfast at 9:30.

                              Still, I worry. I feel guilty. I will miss seeing my 6 month old's bright beautiful smile all day and miss his first steps and first words. I will miss watching my two year old and his antics and he is just beginning pretend play - the funnest part of child hood. But...for my two year old, this is EXACTLY why he needs to be in school so he has other children to pretend with.

                              Oh I wish I could hold tight to them forever!


                              Saturday, September 19, 2009

                              I Get Drunk on Coffee & You Can Too!


                              It's too true, I can get loopy as hell on coffee! Here's the story:

                              The day I found out I was pregnant with my first son I quit … well, pretty much everything. I was an Über-mom. I quit coffee. I quite coke (the drink not cocaine – ‘cause who’d give up cocaine?! I kid…I don’t use drugs). I gave up alcohol. Everything! I made sure I got all the sleep I needed. Heck, I even improved my diet by eating really well right up until my eighth month of pregnancy when an insane craving for Marsha Marsha Marshmallow ice cream kicked in! By the way, the stuff has been taken off the market…if you can convince Ben & Jerry’s to re-institute it, well, I’d love you forever and put you in my will!!

                              So… after the baby was born I was breastfeeding for over a year (16 months to be exact) and naturally being Über-mom I didn’t do any of those things then either. So that was 2 years I didn’t drink anything that wasn’t juice, water or milk (didn’t even consume my beloved chocolate). Then… just a few months later I go and get knocked up again. This time, however, I allowed myself 1 cup of coffee per day and now that that delightful cherub is six months old I’m allowing myself to drink. OK, OK, I’ll be honest, I was allowing a little nip here and there almost as soon as he was out of the womb!

                              So now that I drink again, it’s kind of cool. I can get toasted (I mean toasted!!!!) on 3 beers! Want to know something even cooler? I can get tipsy on two cups of coffee! I’m not kidding, I get slightly dizzy, very jittery and extremely goofy on COFFEE! It’s the best! Who knew! I may do this to myself in the future too. NO! Don’t be silly…I wouldn’t get knocked up just so I can get tipsy on coffee… I mean lay off the good stuff (coffee, alcohol and chocolate) for a while so I can get an early morning buzz from my coffee! Oh yeah, I think it’s called “cleansing”. Whatever…I won’t be doing it for holistic reasons!

                              Friday, September 18, 2009

                              Win Free Loot!!!

                              My friend over at A Lil Welsh Rarebit is giving away some free stuff...five things in fact...check out how to win here: http://www.alilwelshrarebit.com/2009/09/lil-welsh-rarebit-giveaway.html

                              Here's what you can get:

                              First, we have Christina Lee, the stylista behind the blog Real Style, Real People, who is a newspaper columnist and owns her own hand-stamped jewelry company, Tags-N-Stones. She is giving away a set of her adorable Teeny Weeny Wine Charms.

                              Second, one of my favorite online stores, Dali Decals, has offered up a $50 gift certificate to one lucky reader. They have just tons of options...


                              And finally, she's giving away three framed (8 x10 inch) Janet Hill prints! If you aren't already familiar with Janet's work, add her to your reader. She's an amazing artist! Check out her etsy shop!


                              Tuesday, September 15, 2009

                              Messy Boy Eating Alert!

                              I know I've been absent lately - I promise some more posts (and an explanation of what's been keeping me busy) is coming. Meanwhile, feast your eyes on this mess, my cute little six month old attempting to feed himself...he does quite well:

                              Yeah...I don't bother with bibs anymore.

                              Wednesday, September 9, 2009

                              My Kids Don't Drive me to Drink...

                              ... they drive me to EAT!

                              I'm not a big drinker, though I love a glass of Clicquot anytime you set one in front of me or some oh-so-smooth Chimay Red. Stressful days or situations don't make me run for the nearest liquor store - they make me run to the nearest chocolatiere!

                              I just spent from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm trying to get my two cherubs down for their afternoon naps. Here's the series of events and go ahead and imagine the classic circus song (called Entry of the Gladiator, if you're wondering) playing in the background - I know I often do. It's what makes me grin to myself during these hectic moments. Here, you have to get the perfect image in your head…here’s the song:



                              I put Paul down for his nap at 1:00pm (30 mins late because we had taken a walk to the store).

                              Peter finishes eating his lunch and I put him down around 1:30 pm – emerge from Peter’s room to here Paul crying his heart out.

                              I go in and find his mattress is soaked with tears and snot (I thought he had burst a diaper) – but it seems he never went to sleep (as far as I could tell). I found him with both of his socks off and at opposite ends of the crib, he was crooked in the crib with one foot out over the bumper and somehow the crib was pushed out from the wall!

                              I work to get Paul back down but he just won’t go to sleep and starts playing, cooing and laughing. I bring him down stairs where he plays for a bit and starts crying again and then just breaks down in tears as if he had hurt himself!

                              Back up stairs to try again to get him to sleep. He falls asleep in my arms almost immediately. I put him in the crib and he wakes up screaming his head off. I wait a bit but he never stops crying.

                              I pick him up again and again he’s falling asleep fast so I put him down before he’s totally asleep. He starts crying again, but I know he's sleepy so I let him cry it out. After 20 gut-wrenching/heartbreaking minutes of straight crying, he falls asleep.

                              But what do I hear? Coming from PETER’S room… Peter, course saying ”Mama,Mama.?” very quietly. I don’t answer and come back downstairs. Because if I open his door…all is lost. That child is taking his nap!

                              I come downstairs and open the freezer to finish off the last of a pint of ice cream I have been so proud of not touching since before we went on vacation over a week ago.

                              Gone! Is the ice cream.

                              Gone! Too is the remainder of the bag of Salt & Vinegar chips.

                              Gone! Yes, yes... is the chocolate bar that I hid from myself in the upper shelving in my kitchen (that never works).

                              My kids drive me to EAT!

                              Vacation - it's just the best

                              Nothing says you're going on vacation more than packing the bags. Above is an image of what my kids' packed bag looked like before we left. I didn't used to be this anal with my packing - in fact I've been known to forget underwear for a two week vacation. I used to just throw things in the bag and leave. Gone are those days, at least where my children's packing is concerned.

                              Vacation days are nothing short of crazy, we're starting to fall into a rhythm but there are things I used to feel strongly about that just fall to the wayside. Our vacation took place on Lake Masawippi in Canada. So you have pretty warm days and darn cold nights. I'm usually dealing with the infant so my husband is left to dress, feed and bath our 2 year old. I have often seen my son come downstairs wearing blue striped socks, Hawaiian shirt paired with plaid shorts! I don't expect my two year old to be dressed like a Ralph Lauren magazine spread, but that combination of clothing hurt my head and was a bit embarrassing. So... the solution...bundles of clothes.

                              In that picture you see full outfits including a diaper bundled with a rubber band and for vacation I labeled them so my husband wouldn't tear them apart looking for shorts, a pair of thick warm pants, or whatever it was he needed at that moment. The plan worked perfectly. I do this for Grandma's house too (she gets shoes bundled with outfits too). So, at no point during our vacation did I witness my son wearing shorts in the cold or super thick pants in the heat. It was great. Not once did I hear during the bedtime routine "honey, where are his warm PJ's?" fantastic!

                              I use to try to keep Peter's clothes in bundles at home - but it was tedious work.

                              All our vacation photos are here:

                              Click here to view these pictures larger